Give me a White Sox fan any day... Do you hear them whining endlessly about how God wants them to suffer?
- Luke Appling
The tightest races in baseball at the moment are in the NL East, where Washington and Atlanta are still in a dead heat after winning yesterday, and the battle for the AL Wild Card, where the Twins now hold just a one game lead on Oakland.
The Padres lost their sixth straight game, and are looking to shake things up. Sean Burroughs was dispatched to the minors and Joe Randa was obtained to take over third base. The Padres are talking to the Orioles about trading 1B Phil Nevin to Baltimore for Sidney Ponson, but Nevin can veto the trade and does not want to leave the west coast. The Orioles would like to unload Ponson's contract before taking on another big one, but I'm not sure if the Padres can really use Ponson. Adam Eaton should be back soon enough, and would replace Pedro Astacio (who actually pitched very well yesterday.) Ponson would bump Tim Stauffer from the San Diego rotation, and I can't see why they'd want to do that. It only makes sense to me if Eaton's finger problem is going to keep him out longer than anyone expected. Ponson is probably an upgrade on Astacio.
Was anyone at all impressed by Sean Douglass while he was here? I did wonder, in the course of a very long post from the ball park one day, if Douglass had a chance to develop into... oh, Tom Henke? Can't remember what I was smoking that day, but I was impressed by Douglass' K rate, and a low opponents BAVG. I noted that Henke at the same age had the same positives, and the same inability to find home plate. And they were about the same size, too!
I was thinking that Douglass had a chance - just a chance - to possibly become a very effective short reliever, and certainly while he was in Toronto he was much, much more effective out of the pen (4.21 ERA, opponents batted just .211) than he was as a starter.
Obviously Detroit was willing to give Douglass a shot, but did they listen to me? Did they stick Douglass in short relief? No. They've insisted on using him as a starter. And in his five starts, he has... he's 3-0? With a 2.10 ERA? Really?
It's been 37 years since anyone won the Triple Crown. Derrek Lee is just one RBI short of leading the NL in all three categories. Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols are also both in their league's top five.
Time was, to win a Triple Crown, a hitter had to beat out all the hitters on his own team, and on seven other teams. Now he has to beat out all the hitters on his own team, plus all the hitters on as many as fifteen other teams.
Very few players have led the league in all three categories over the course of their careers, let alone during a single season. Barry Bonds, naturally, is one of them. But by the time Bonds won the first of his two batting championships, in 2002, he was no longer even among the leaders in RBIs as pitchers simply refused to pitch to him with men in base. Bonds did lead the NL in both RBI and HRs back in 1993, but his .336 average was only good enough for fourth behind Andres Galarraga. Despite hitting more than 700 home runs, Bonds has led the league just twice.
Manny Ramirez has led the AL in each category once: RBI in 1999, BAVG in 2002, and HRs in 2004. Alex Rodriguez led the AL in homers three times from 2001-2003, and in 2002 he led in RBI as well. But since leading the league with a .358 BAVG in 1996, he's only once even finished in the top 10. No other active player has led the league in all three categories at some point during their careers - not Walker (HR and BAVG), not Griffey (HR and RBI), not Helton (RBI and BAVG), not Thomas (BAVG), not Pujols (BAVG). Although Albert Pujols is still capable of just about anything before he's done...
As near as I can tell, just four men have led the both the AL and NL in home runs. Two of those men, Sam Crawford and Buck Freeman, started their careers in the NL before there even was an American League. Care to guess who the other two were? They have a number of things in common...
Seattle (Sele 6-10, 5.15) at Cleveland (Millwood 3-9, 3.34) 1:05
Minnesota (Lohse 7-8, 4.34) at Detroit (Bonderman 12-6, 4.05) 1:05
Oakland (Harden 7-4, 2.11) at Texas (Park 8-4, 5.33) 2:05
Toronto (Lilly 8-9, 5.38) at Kansas City (Carrasco 4-4, 4.09) 2:10
Baltimore (Bedard 5-1, 1.89) at Tampa Bay (Fossum 4-8, 4.01) 2:15
Boston (Arroyo 8-5, 4.05) at Chicago (Contreras 5-6, 4.34) 3:05
New York (Mussina 9-5, 3.95) at Los Angeles (Washburn 6-5, 3.27) 4:05
Houston (Rodriguez 5-4, 6.79) at Washington (Patterson 4-2, 2.69) 1:05
Los Angeles (Penny 5-5, 3.40) at New York (Benson 6-3, 3.40) 1:10
Milwaukee (Davis 9-7, 4.18) at Cincinnati (Hudson 1-5, 10.05) 1:15
San Diego (Lawrence 5-9, 4.13) at Philadelphia (Myers 7-5, 3.32) 1:35
Colorado (Chacon 1-6, 4.11) at Pittsburgh (Redman 4-10, 4.24) 1:35
Florida (Burnett 6-6, 3.68) at San Francisco (Correia 1-1, 5.79) 4:05
Atlanta (Ramirez 8-5, 4.62) at Arizona (Vazquez 8-9, 4.50) 4:40
Chicago (Prior 7-3, 3.15) at St.Louis (Suppan 9-7, 4.22) 8:05